“Public History and the Media” a workshop at the European University Institute in Florence, February 11-13, 2015

The IFPH-FIHP,  together with the NCPH and other associations and cultural institutions, are participating to an important workshop on Public History organised by the History and Civilisation Department, European University Institute, in Florence-Fiesole, Italy, 11th, 12th and 13th February 2015. The goals of the workshop, the name of the participants and the full programme are published below. Two professors in the History and Civilization Department at the EUI shared the scientific organisation with the responsible of this blog: Prof. Luca Molà and Prof. Lucy Riall. Sandra Toffolo, project manager for  European History Primary Sources coordinates the administration of the workshop.  Who is, in general, interested by Public History, the interconnection between the discipline and the media, the differences between academic and public history, the public history job market and digital public history issues, is warmly encouraged to attend this workshop open  freely to everybody.

Public History and the Media

Photography by Serge Noiret for the Workshop "Public History and the Media" (San Francisco - March 2014)

Photography by Serge Noiret for the Workshop “Public History and the Media” (San Francisco – March 2014)

In recent decades, public enthusiasm for history and popular engagement with the past has grown dramatically. The popularity of history is manifested most visibly in the proliferation of television documentaries and historical dramas but it is also discernible in the rebirth of the historical novel, the organization of large-scale commemorations of historical anniversaries, the development of new historical museums and exhibitions, re-enactments and living history activities and the emergence of public history as a separate field of academic study. Digitization has also brought history and historical research to the broader public in hitherto unconceivable ways. Yet, for the most part, and with some notable exceptions, academic historians have remained extraneous to these developments, and their relationship to the public is different from that of public historians.

Is this difference between academic and public historians only about different professional ambitions, separate audiences and a different use of communication media? While it is not possible to become a public historian without an academic background, it is possible to be an academic historian without engaging in public history. Both are professional historians working with the past: their roles and their audiences are complementary although their practices are different in terms of methodology and forms of communication. Moreover, the development of public history raises questions about historical interpretation and the political use of the past that concern all historians, and should provoke a debate about ownership of the past in which both academic and public historians have much to contribute.

This workshop will take place at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy and is organised by the History and Civilisation Department, The Historical Archives of the European Union and the Max Weber Programme’s Academic Careers Observatory. The scientific organizers, Luca Molà, Serge Noiret and Lucy Riall, brought together a number of leading practitioners in the field of public history and the media to discuss the current state of the field and in order to explore the relationship between public history and academic history. The first day of the workshop will be given over to exploring the relationship between history and media culture, with panels on oral history, publishing and teaching, films and the phenomenon of so-called ‘media dons’. The second day will focus on digital public history tools, practices and narratives. The third day will deal with the history of public history in the USA, discuss public history as an alternative career and look at public history in museums and exhibitions.


Photography by Serge Noiret: Florence from the Badia Fiesolana, European University Institute

Day 1 – Wednesday 11 February 2015 – Villa Schifanoia, Sala Europa

8.30-9.00        Registration (Sala Bandiere)

9.00-9.30         Welcome and Introduction

9.30-11.00      Session 1 – Oral History

Chair: Belinda Davis (Rutgers University)

‘L’Archivio degli Iblei’ and ‘Terramatta’: Sharing Memories Publically – Chiara Ottaviano (Cliomedia Officina, Turin)

Oral History and Video Performance – Giovanni Contini Bonacossi (Associazione Italiana Storia Orale)

‘Italy in a Day’ by Gabriele Salvatores: The First Italian User Generated Film – Ilaria Castiglioni (Indiana Production, Milan)

 11.00-11.30    Coffee Break

 11.30-13.00    Session 2 – Publishing

Chair: Lucy Riall (EUI)

Big History: Making New History Books into Major Events – Simon Winder (Penguin)

From Written to Live History: A Publisher’s Experience – Giuseppe Laterza (Laterza Editore)

13.00-14.30    Lunch

14.30-16.00    Session 3 – Teaching Public History and the Use of Textbooks

Chair: Stéphane Van Damme (EUI)

Inventing Europe: Teaching Europe Through the Lens of Technology – Suzanne Lommers (Foundation for the History of Technology)

 Master Narratives and History Education: Wasn’t the Spanish Reconquest Actually a Conquest? – Mario Carretero (EUI & Universidad Autonoma Madrid)

Teaching Digital Public History – Enrica Salvatori (Università degli Studi di Pisa)

16.00-16.15    Break

16.15-17.15    Session 4 – TV and Radio

Chair: Youssef Cassis (EUI)

Broadcasting History: The Constraints and Possibilities of the Medium – Luca Molà (EUI) and Lucy Riall (EUI) in conversation with Amanda Vickery (Queen Mary University of London)

17.15-17.45    Coffee Break

17.45-20.15     Rai Fiction Film: Un mondo nuovo – Altiero Spinelli


Pier Virgilio Dastoli (Consiglio Italiano del Movimento Europeo) and Alberto Negrin (Director)

Projection of the Film (with English subtitles)

Q & A

 Day 2 – Thursday 12 February 2015 – Historical Archives of the  European Union, Villa Salviati

9.00-9.45        Keynote Lecture – What is Digital Public History? – Mark Tebeau (Arizona State University)

9.45-11.15      Session 5 – Digital Public History Narratives

Chair: Rebecca Conard (Middle Tennessee State University)

Urban Media Archive in the City of Lviv: From Collecting to Engaging – Bohdan  Shumylovych (EUI & Center for Urban History of East-Central Europe)

CENDARI: The Collaborative European Digital Archive Infrastructure for the Study of WW1 and Medieval Culture – Andrea Buchner (University of Birmingham)

From the War to the Web: Crossing Borders with the Europeana 1914-1918 Project – Ad Pollé (Europeana)

11.15-11.45    Coffee Break

11.45-13.15    Session 6 – Digital Archives

Chair: Dieter Schlenker (EUI-Historical Archives of the European Union)

The Medici Archive: Private Collection and Public Use – Alessio Assonitis (The Medici Archive Project)

The Venice Time Machine Project – Frédéric Kaplan (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne)

13.15-15.00    Lunch

15.00-16.30    Session 7 – Mobile and Time-Based History

Chair: Mark Tebeau (Arizona State University)

Memory Sharing and the New Media in Exhibiting Florence 1940-1944 – Valeria Galimi (Università della Tuscia)

Oral History Contents in the Web: The Memoro Archive – Luca Novarino (Memoro Project)

 In Susan Horner’s Florence – Alyson Price (The British Institute of Florence)

16.30-17.00    Coffee Break

17.00-18.30    Session 8 – European Narratives

Chair: Federico Romero (EUI)

Writing a New History of Europe – Frédéric Clavert (Labex EHNE, Paris)

Using EU Websites for the History of European Integration – Dieter Schlenker (EUI-Historical Archives of the European Union)

HistoGraph: Human and Machine Computation for European Integration Studies – Lars Wieneke (CVCE Luxembourg)

 Day 3 – Friday 13 February 2015 – Badia Fiesolana, Refectory

9.00-10.30      Session 9 – Public History in the USA

Chair: Serge Noiret (EUI)

The Pragmatic Turn in American Historical Thought and Public History Education in the United States – Rebecca Conard (Middle Tennessee State University)

Reflective Practice: Public History’s Signature Pedagogy – Patricia Mooney-Melvin (Loyola University Chicago)

Public History in the 21st Century: Entrepreneurial Practice within a Shifting Professional Market – Patrick Moore (President National Council on Public History; University of West Florida, Pensacola; Historical Research Associates)

10.30-11.00    Coffee Break


Photography by Serge Noiret, Florence from Bagno a Ripoli

11.00-13.00     Session 10 – EUI HEC Alumni Roundtable

Which Kind of Public Historians Are We? Public History as an Alternative Job Market for EUI Alumni – 

Chair: Thomas Cauvin (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)


  • Dan H. Andersen (Freelance Historian, Reenactor, and Writer, Copenhagen)
  • Jozefien De Bock (Curator Project Migration, STAM -City Museum Ghent)
  • Christine Dupont (European Parliament-House of History)
  • Torsten Feys (Public History Programme Ghent University)
  • Ciaran O’Scea (Curator, Irish and the Spanish Monarchy Exhibition, Archivo General de Simancas)
  • Sven Mesinovic (Museumspädagoge (freelance) Stiftung Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin)
  • Markus J. Prutsch (European Parliament)
  • Aurora Savelli (Portale ‘Storia di Firenze’)
  • Sandra Toffolo (EUI-European History Primary Sources)
  • Gerben Zaagsma (Project Anne Frank, Lichtenberg-Kolleg – the Göttingen Institute of Advanced Study)

13.00-14.30    Lunch

14.30-17.00     Session 11 – Museums and Exhibitions

Chair: Luca Molà (EUI)

Narrating Europe in a Museum? The House of European History – Étienne Deschamps (European Parliament)

Origins and Evolution of a Private Museum – Stefania Ricci (Museo Salvatore Ferragamo, Florence)

Museum-Based Research: The View from the Victoria & Albert – Bill Sherman (Victoria & Albert Museum) & Marta Ajmar (Victoria & Albert Museum)

17.00-17.30     Concluding Remarks and Coffee



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